This story was updated at 10 a.m. Nov. 7.
Prince George’s County voters were overwhelmingly in favor of the so-called “Leslie’s Law.”
The amendment — inspired in part by former County Councilwoman Leslie Johnson (D-Dist. 6) of Mitchellville, who remained in office for a month after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges in June 2011 — closes a loophole that allowed elected officials to remain in office after pleading guilty until sentencing. With 98.7 percent of precincts reported in by early Wednesday, 88.61 percent were in favor of the amendment.
With the amendment’s passage, officials will be automatically suspended at the finding of guilt and removed at sentencing, when the conviction becomes final. Those who plead guilty will instantly be removed from office.
“The law was needed as it seemed as though elected officials could get different treatment when facing crimes,” said Brandi Hall, a human resources coordinator from Upper Marlboro. “We’ve had a lot of issues of politicians getting away with criminal acts that I wouldn’t be able to as an ordinary citizen.”
Allowing for public officials convicted of crimes to be ejected from their posts seemed a matter of fairness as well to Abe Forstenzer of Laurel.
“I know some people who have been suspended from non-public jobs because they just had charges pending,” he said.
Public officials should set an example, said Lori Cherry of Bowie.
“If elected officials are making decision for everyone, [they] should be on the up and up,” she said.
Ideally, such a rule change shouldn’t be needed, said Stephanie Roseman of Mitchellville.
“If you’re in higher office, you have to lead by example,” she said. “If you’ve been convicted [of a crime], you should want to step down.”